I know I know. It’s been quiet around here lately.
Here is one thing that I’ve been doing … I’ve been attending private court hearings under the legal bloggers pilot (one so far – a plan for a second one today scotched by an overrunning case and a desire to see a bit of lovely pomp when Mr Justice Baker was sworn in and transmogrified into Lord Justice Baker). My first blog post arising from the pilot (see PD36J) can be found on the Transparency Project website here : Inaugural legal blogging day
See also the dedicated legalbloggers hub page if you want to find out more (please do).
This is a big deal for me personally, for The Transparency Project, and for transparency generally. It was back in June 2014 that I wrote a blog pos called ‘Proto Manifesto‘, proposing this :
For me, it is a waste of breath wishing the press did something they are never going to do : the press comprises of commercial enterprises, who need to sell stories to survive. The range of material they report will always be selective. The manner in which they report stories will usually be interesting, entertaining or racy, but not always informative or educative. On one level it’s difficult to criticise them for that. As the fox said to the frog “it’s in my nature to be a fox”.
So the press aren’t the answer.
And the transparency reforms comprising (so far) of the more widespread reporting of judgments on Bailii is not the answer. Because the public don’t read Bailii. And the press don’t link to Bailii so that the public can read an alternative account of their storified account of a case by matching it to a Bailii report. Does a judgment on Bailii make a sound if nobody is listening?
But I think more and different reporting may be part of the answer.
But not by the press. And not by what we would describe as “law reporters”, for the Law Reports.
We need an organisation providing not for profit reporting of family cases for the public.
Let’s tell them what happens in the family court. In the interesting scandalous cases for sure – but also in the run of the mill, happens up and down the country every working weekday sort of cases too.
Let’s tell them when the system works as well as when it doesn’t.
Let’s have commentary, but let’s clearly distinguish between reporting and commentary and let’s make whatever we report accurate and balanced.
And let’s put it all in one place, freely available to the public, searchable, authoritative and updated regularly.
Would that be so radical?
That was in 2014. It led to the creation of The Transparency Project. The idea of non-journalists going into court and doing public interest reporting was a bit too rad for 2014, but four and a bit years later that little seed of an idea has come to fruition. I fully expect it will be difficult, and that maybe even the take up won’t be consistent, that attitudes to it will vary, and that we will meet some resistance and criticism. It will need skill and hard work to get right. But if you don’t try you don’t work out how to do things well.
Please take a look at the legal blogers page on the TP website and see if you think you could participate in this pilot.